WELLINGTON TWP. — American flags mark the spot where rescue diver Allan “Buz” Anderson died last June trying to save two teenagers stranded on flooded Pitts Road.
But at 10 a.m. June 22 — the first anniversary of the day he died — a more permanent marker will be dedicated.
It’s only fitting to remember a hero, said Anderson’s former boss and diving buddy, Forrest “Bud” Mohrman.
He recalls passing Anderson’s truck rushing to the place where teens Chet Aden, then 17, and Ashley Jordan, then 16, were clinging to tree branches after abandoning their SUV in high water.
“I had a bad feeling,” Mohrman said. “When I got to work the guys told me, ‘Buz has been called out on a rescue mission.’ ”
Before long, they all learned that Anderson had drowned trying to save the teens who were rescued by a state park ranger in a boat.
Anderson’s 20 or so co-workers at Tooling and Process Engineering, near the fairgrounds, have been working on crafting a beautiful bronze plaque to memorialize Anderson, said Mohrman’s sister, Connie Bradley.
Mohrman’s wife, Barbara, found a photograph of Anderson from their last diving trip that really captures Anderson’s spirit, Bradley said.
“He was wonderful — really giving,” Bradley said. “He gave his life for kids he didn’t even know.”
Mohrman, who lives on Pitts Road, said Anderson made a mistake by asking Wellington Fire Chief Robert Walker for permission to wade into the water. The two easily dove to depths of nearly 200 feet, but swift water is incredibly dangerous, Mohrman said.
Mohrman still remembers the 1969 flood, when a trucker on state Route 58 had to climb on top of his cab — and then the trailer itself — to escape high water before he was plucked to safety by a helicopter.
“As soon as they pulled him off, the truck tumbled over,” he said.
Township trustee Calvin Woods said there was some debate on whether the memorial should be erected downtown, but he advocated for placing it where it might do some good. Parents can tell youngsters about what happened in that spot and warn them about obeying safety signs.
The teens had driven around “high water” signs and through the water before abandoning their vehicle.
Mohrman said some folks in the area are still very bitter, but the teens are paying a price.
“These two kids watched Al Anderson die before their eyes, and they won’t forget that,” he said.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.